Pre 2

HP Co.’s Palm Pre 2 has arrived in Canada with a much faster 1GHz processor and a big emphasis on multitasking. While nothing on the specs list is truly innovative, the Palm team has addressed most of the major concerns compared its previous device and released a very capable smart phone.
Operating system

The overall WebOS 2.0 experience was very solid. Menus are quick and easy to navigate through and icons look very colourful and sharp.

Multitasking was hyped as one of the biggest new features with this new Pre device and the company did not disappoint. 

Apps open up in the form of “cards” on the screen. If you open up five apps, you will be able to cycle through them by gesturing to the right or left. As soon you as want to “kill” an app, you simply touch the app card and slide your finger vertically to the top of the screen.

The same concept is available for opening up multiple Web pages, which along with the speed and responsiveness of the touch screen, makes Web browsing one of the Pre 2’s best features.

Despite the small screen size, zooming and scrolling through pages was very smooth and lightning fast. The browser also supports Adobe Flash videos.

As for other phone features, the OS comes with a “Launcher” screen that lets users customize and group their apps and systems tools in any way they want. The OS also features a very slick notification feature for incoming e-mails and battery life worked very well. 

As a regular Android user, I would like to see widgets added to the WebOS home screen, but the small screen size could be a limiting factor to see that on the Pre 2.


The display on the Pre 2 feels a bit cramped, but that should be expected from a 3.1 inch screen. Still, putting aside the screen real estate issue, the Pre 2 offers users an excellent display.

Palm made a big deal over the switch to Gorilla Glass for the device’s screen and I am very impressed with the results. I did not pick up any scratches during my test run with the phone and experienced no issues with reflections. The screen has also been changed slightly from the last Pre release and is now flat as opposed to curved.

The device comes with solid touch screen functionality for navigating through menus and on the Web.

Underneath the display screen, the Pre 2 features a somewhat disappointing slide-out Qwerty keyboard. While the keyboard itself functions adequately, the device’s design makes it difficult for users trying to type on the top row keys.

Users coming to the Pre 2 after using a BlackBerry are most likely to experience some discomfort.


Just below the screen is a new touch-sensitive LED strip, which lets users cycle through menu screens. The navigation strip also lets users minimize and maximize the apps they have running via a vertical swipe. The gesture control strip takes a little bit of getting used to, but thankfully the Palm team offers a quick tutorial upon first turning on the device.

The “Just Type” feature — which allows users to type any search term they want on their phone and automatically find a list of relevant contacts, addresses, or apps — was surprisingly helpful. I expected the feature to be a gimmick, but it manages to actually save you time if you’re quickly looking to call up a contact.

Device design

The device fits very comfortably in the hand and features a soft rubber material on the back, which makes it easy to grip. This is an upgrade over the plastic back cover on the original Pre.

A nifty little feature is a pocket mirror that sits behind the display screen and is revealed when users slide out the Qwerty keyboard. The mirror sits directly above the device’s camera and flash lens and will presumably help you take pictures of yourself.

Also on the back of the device is a Palm logo and a speaker.

In addition to the 1GHz processor, the device also comes with 16GB internal memory, 512MB of RAM, and a 5 megapixel camera. Other specs include integrated GPS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1 support.


Palm’s App Catalog was a pleasant surprise for me. While the app store pales in comparison to what Apple and Google currently offer, the marketplace will be adequate enough for most users.

Some popular productivity apps from the Android Market have been ported, but a lot are missing. Navigating through the App Catalog is a very similar experience to what users will find in the Android Market, but I was disappointed with the lack of user generated reviews on each app download page.

Angry Birds addicts will also be happy to know Palm’s app store features the original incarnation of the game.

Overall, this is definitely the area in most need of improvement for the WebOS platform and probably the biggest knock on the phone.

Battery Life

With light calling, texting and browsing users can probably expect to get 35 to 45 hours of life on a battery charge. Of course, the more apps a user leaves running in the background will contribute to how fast the battery drains. I’d rank the Pre 2 a little better than average when benchmarked against some of the other popular Android-based smart phone devices I’ve used.

Calling and texting

The Pre 2 performed well in both areas. The sound was a bit muffled on some calls, but so many factors can influence call quality so it’s difficult to fault the device itself. All in all, pretty standard stuff.

Final verdict

Despite the uncomfortable hardware keyboard and a lackluster app store, the Pre 2 is a fine device.

The 1GHz processor has greatly improved multitasking and Web browsing when compared to the previous model. In fact, the Pre 2 should definitely be ranked as one of the better phones on the market when it comes to Web browsing.

The small display screen looked great, but should be expanded in future editions of HP’s flagship smart phone.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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